A patroller's health and well-being are crucial in making clear-headed choices on and off the hill. Unfortunately, over time, a patroller is exposed to hundreds of unforeseen events that may impact their health and decision-making.
Wellness balances a person's physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being. Achieving this balance and maintaining a balanced lifestyle helps as a preventative measure for dealing with our traumatic experiences.
As patrollers, we can regain our well-being after traumatic events, maintain optimal health, and achieve a balanced life by implementing coping techniques in this course.
"Stress is a typical human reaction that happens to everyone."
Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain (WHO). Stress is your body's response to anything that requires attention or action. In fact, the human brain is designed to experience stress, react, and adapt to it. This adaptation and growth process in the brain is called neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience.
Stress responses help our brain and body to adjust to new situations. Stress can be positive (called eustress), keeping us alert, motivated and ready to avoid danger. For example, if you have an important test coming up, a stress response might help you to be more alert.
Stress becomes a problem when stressors continue and the brain adaptation process is overwhelmed (called distress). Distress occurs in the form of acute stress, acute stress disorder, and chronic stress.Compromised recovery and an overactive nervous system can create altered physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses.
The feeling of stress is subjective. The threat can be real or imagined; it’s the perception of threat that triggers the stress response. Only the person experiencing it can determine with a self- assessment whether it's present and how severe it feels. The Signs and Symptoms of Stress can be helpful in identification.
Ongoing stress reactions can interfere with productivity, relationships and health.
Part of identifying one's signs and symptoms is to become aware of our feelings. Some of us are not aware of our current mental state as we move throughout our day until we are confronted with challenges that change our state of mind. A proven calibrating technique helps to determine if one is Challenged, Uncertain, and or Ready. It also serves as a transitional tool to determine if a copying technique is useful to reduce the stress level from challenged to uncertain back to green.
This calibration process is designed to respect one’s privacy. This calibration system can be used by the patroller for self-assessment as well as a patroller assessing a fellow patroller, hill employee, or guest.
Calibration, on a scale from 1 through 10 rate your current feelings with 1 feeling ready and 10 feeling extremely challenged. For reference view a Feelings Evaluation Card to assist with ratings.
See the SWProgram info in the links section for more information on coping skill videos, counseling contacts for patrol groups, or individuals, continuing education, and other information on wellness management.
Stress Coping Skills and Strategies
Coping skills are techniques that change the input to the brain, the neural integration process and output. In order to change our mental state we can target specific brain and body areas utilizing a variety of coping skills.
Coping skills include self-hypnosis, EFT, breathing techniques, vision and vestibular drills - to name a few. It is important to explore and find what coping skill works best for you.
Behavioral Strategies to manage stress:
Review your daily routine: Continuing your healthy daily routines so that your brain can focus on distressing and recovering. Avoid adding new challenging activities during this time.
Good sleep schedule: Sleep plays an important role in stress management, especially after traumatic events. A regular sleep schedule is vital to get good quality and quantity of sleep and gives the brain and body the needed time to recover and recharge. Ideally, get 7-9 hours of sleep.
Share your thoughts: Talking about the incident to a friend, loved one, or therapist will help gain clarity of your feelings and give you the needed support and perspectives. The goal is not to focus on the negative but rather on how to move forward to a healthy well-being.
Exercise regularly: Physical exercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve your sense of well-being.
Healthy Diet: A healthy, well-balanced diet helps the body and brain to manage stress more effectively. Avoid or moderate your sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake.
Seek help: If the symptoms of stress continue, seek professional help. See the resources above.
The Three E's System
A patroller's health and well-being are crucial in making clear-headed choices on and off the hill. Unfortunately, over time, a patroller might be exposed to hundreds of unforeseen events that may impact our health and well-being and alter our decision-making. As patrollers, we can maintain optimal health and regain our well-being after traumatic events by implementing coping techniques. These techniques include self-hypnosis, EFT Tapping, and exercises to calm the nervous system. Additional skills, such as recognizing the different mental states and non-verbal to verbal communication cues, how to create rapport, calibrating, and self-assessing, are all taught in this program.
Wellness balances a person's physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being. Achieving this balance and maintaining a balanced lifestyle helps as a preventative measure for dealing with our traumatic experiences on and off the hill. Mastering these skills empowers us as a patroller to live a balanced life and to make life-saving decisions from a place of clarity.
Head Start - Our brain is a complex organ that controls memory, thought, emotions, temperature, touch, vision, breathing, hunger, motor skills, and every process that regulates our body. A healthy functioning brain and nervous system give us the advantage on the hill. This program uses a brain-based approach to create fast and effective changes.
Head Strong - Headstrong is about maintaining good daily habits that promote long-term health, well-being, and performance-being; headstrong means sustaining the ability to make decisions from a place of nimbleness and intelligence for clear-headed choices on and off the hill.
The Three E's system is a step-by-step roadmap to feeling mentally strong and ready to take on any challenge.
Education is the foundation for A Good Assessment (AGA), understanding communication, and understanding what adjustments are effective to improve one's health and well-being.
Engagement is a vital component of rapport, effective communication, and self-care.
Empowerment through skills gives one the confidence and the ability to access choices to make positive changes.
"A critical incident is any event or experience, usually unexpected which has the power to overwhelm the defenses of an individual."
A Critical Incident Stress debriefing can lessen the emotional impact on personnel exposed to the critical incident. It can accelerate recovery from the event before harmful stress reactions damage work performance, health, work and family relations. So Cal NSP offers support and training to a cadre of Peer Counselors who will respond to an incident. These counselors can help aid and assist in the recovery process through Critical incident debriefings. Affected patrollers relate to a group of their peers with whom they can share their experiences.
It is not uncommon for people to experience some distress in response to a traumatic event, even when these events are faced routinely.
Emotional numbing — Many distance themselves from the incident and make an effort not to feel any thing. They almost deny having an emotional component, and therefore give the appearance that they are in a state of shock. They usually say, however, that they are in control and are having no problems dealing with the situation.
Isolation — They experience the feeling of being alone and that no one else knows what they are going through. They may experience irritability and agitation, and may again deny that anything is wrong.
Intrusive thoughts/flashbacks — They will relive the event in their mind: over and over again. If it continues, they begin to wonder or question whether they have complete control of their thoughts. This can change their final outlook, for better or worse.
Sleep disturbances — Disturbances, which can result from a traumatic incident, include inability to sleep, nightmares, and waking in a cold sweat. In the nightmares, the theme is fear or guilt. Guilt is common in 95% of traumatic incidents to varying degrees. This guilt can be translated into anger or depression.
Anxiety and fear — The fear most commonly felt is that of returning to the exact job duties as before, i.e. returning to routine duty.
Loss of interest/burnout — Loss of interest in work is difficulty in returning to it. Mundane activities suddenly become boring.
Re-consideration — Re-evaluation of each person’s value system, goals and status is often the final step which determines the person’s abilities to cope and how they will continue their future activities. Some consider giving up their current careers. They may also re-evaluate their personal relationship situations. Some make a stronger commitment and others exit the relationship.
Patrollers are encouraged to reach out directly, or through their Patrol Director. There are no costs or fees to patrollers receiving care through this invaluable program.
Links & Resources
Emergency Resources - If you are struggling and need immediate help please contact one of the help lines.
Crisis Text Line
text HOME to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 988 or (800) 273-8255
Free and confidential support for people in distress 24/7
Safety & Wellness Team Southern California Region
Contact us at email@example.com to access
Additional coping skill videos
Contact us for patrol group counseling
Contact us for individual counseling
Information on wellness management